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Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood

November 06, 2021
2021-11-06
San Francisco is a unique city, to say the least! You may think you’ve got a good idea of what this place truly is, but when you go there yourself, you'll realize that you weren't so on the mark as you thought. This isn't to say that what you've been told or what you've seen about the city in movies, on TV, or online have been wrong, but rather, you'll never get a good sense of the place unless you've been to it. Case in point are the different neighborhoods in San Francisco. From Bayview to Castro or Central Market to the Marina District, the city is just as diverse as its population.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood


What are Good Neighborhoods in San Francisco?

Most of the neighborhoods in San Francisco are good. There's Haight-Ashbury, for example, which is a lively district known for its many lively shops and welcoming community. The Castro District, on the other hand, is best known as the “gayborhood” of the city. This is the best place to celebrate Pride Month. Pacific Heights is also a fairly peaceful place that has a great view of the bay. You'd do well to check it out if you're moving to San Francisco.


What Areas to Avoid in San Francisco?

As beautiful of a city as it is, the unfortunate truth is that San Francisco's crime rates are quite high. Its general crime rate is 69.61%, which is considered high. At the same time, the city's rate of increasing crimes is 76.95%, which is even higher. Does this mean that San Francisco is a dangerous city? Not necessarily. However, you'd do well to avoid areas like Hunters Point, the Mission District, and even Golden Gate Park, especially at night. These are some of the least safe parts of the city.


Bayview in San Francisco

Lively, diverse, electric, delicious, communal—these are just some of the best words to describe the Bayview neighborhood in San Francisco. As the peak of this neighborhood, it gives you a stunning view of the bay as well as the rest of the city, but that's more of an extra benefit of living here than anything else. What you'll enjoy most about this Bayview the most is the rich diversity in communities, restaurants, and colorful culture. See the intricate artworks in Public Glass, dine at Old Skool Cafe, and have fun at Heron's Head Park!


Is Bayview, San Francisco Safe?

Bayview is a fairly safe part of San Francisco. It's not exactly the safest, but it only has a moderate crime rate.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Castro, San Francisco

It's no secret to most of the world that San Francisco is a gay city. It's known to be a haven for the LGBTQIA+ community, most especially the Castro neighborhood. You'll instantly see it from the rainbow-rendered road markings, the gay-friendly establishments, and most especially the huge parade during Pride Month in San Francisco. If you're a member of this community, this is your best choice of home if you ever move to San Francisco.


What is The Castro District in San Francisco?

Castro is the quintessential gay neighborhood of San Francisco. It's a historic haven for the LGBTQIA+ community, having witnessed many of the important events that shaped the community in American history. Queer culture is alive and well in this part of the city, thanks in large part to the various places that uphold the community's legacy, from decades-old cafes to fascinating museums.


What to Do in Castro, San Francisco

Before going to the famous gay bars to party or watch drag shows, there's a lot you can do in the Castro District during the day. Visit the GLBT Historic Museum, for example, and learn all about the LGBTQIA+ community and the many strides they've made over the years. Watch a show at the Castro Theatre too. The performance hall puts on some of the best shows in the city. Vintage lovers would love walking down Market Street as well. It's an entire street devoted to vintage vibes and charms.


Is Castro, San Francisco Safe?

Despite how rowdy it can get here, the Castro District is largely safe. It doesn't have a high crime rate and the community is welcoming to people from all walks of life.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Central Market, San Francisco

With the cable cars zooming around and the hordes of people walking about, the Central Market district is undoubtedly one of—if not the busiest area in town. It's the major transit artery of the city and the best place to get into San Francisco's public transport. Ironically, however, this isn't the corporate center of the city. The arts dominate here, from the Golden Gate and Orpheum theaters to the International Art Museum of America and other similar galleries. Not to mention the cool jazz clubs that light up the district once the sun goes down!


Is Central Market, San Francisco Safe?

Though it does get busy at times, the Central Market District is largely safe. It just pays to be more aware of your surroundings when you’re in this part of the city, especially at night.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Mission District, San Francisco

San Francisco's Mission District is one of those places that have drastically changed over time. The way it is now is worlds apart from what it used to be a couple of decades ago. Back then, the area was a major immigrant haven, the nesting ground for Polish, German, Irish, Italian, and Latin American immigrants. Though the neighborhood today remains just as diverse, instead of just Italian restaurants, Irish pubs, and Latin hotspots, it's become a Silicon Valley-like area with so many tech startups and small businesses setting up shop here. If you're looking to find work in San Francisco, this is one of the best places to start.


What to Do in Mission District, San Francisco?

You can easily spend an entire day in San Francisco in just the Mission District alone. For one thing, this is one of the best places to have a foodie tour of the city. The area's culinary scene is just as diverse as its population, thanks in large part to the many immigrant communities that have settled down here over the years. The street art makes for the best Instagram-worthy spots in San Francisco too, taking selfies that can very well double as album covers. And on Mission Street, you can shop till you drop at the several vintage stores. Who knows what sort of cool finds you might just stumble upon here?


Is Mission District, San Francisco Safe?

Unfortunately, the Mission District has some of the highest crime rates in San Francisco. Though it's a great place to work and hang out, it's far from the best area to stay at night.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Haight Ashbury, San Francisco

In terms of a residential area in San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury is your best bet. It's here where you'll see the iconic classic Victorian houses lined up on the city's hills as if they're Legos or something. It's a relatively suburban part of the city but it's not as quiet and peaceful as one. There's still a bit of an urban vibe to it too. Historically, this was the center of San Francisco's hippie movement. Flower power reigned supreme here, establishing the city's bohemian roots. You can still see remnants of that colorful time here today, from the vintage and record shops to the decades-old cafes and bars.


What to Do in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco?

Overall, Haight Ashbury is among the best places to have fun with the family in San Francisco. Go on a stroll and see the iconic Victorian houses all lined up perfectly. Head to Buena Vista Park for a day of outdoor fun, a nice picnic, and incredible city views. Young adults and teenagers, on the other hand, will love Hippie Hill. It's filled with the city's youth and creativity, complete with local musicians performing, artists doing their thing, and students hanging out. And of course, you overlook the cool shops in the area. They have some of the best vintage finds in all of San Francisco.


Haight Ashbury, San Francisco Restaurants

Although Haight Ashbury is not that big of a foodie hotspot, it still has a few notable establishments worth checking out. Begin with Cha Cha Cha on Haight Street, for example, which serves some of the best Latin-influenced dishes in the area. The 1428 Haight Patio Cafe & Crepery on the same street is also nice. It's the perfect place to enjoy some old-fashioned American brunch in the neighborhood. And if you just want a nice sandwich, look no further than Sandy's. These are simple but scrumptious snacks you won't want to miss out on!
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Chinatown, San Francisco

Arguably one of—if not the busiest neighborhood in San Francisco, this Chinatown is among the most famous in the world. Many major cities have their own respective Chinatowns, but this one is immensely popular. It's one of the oldest of its kind in the US, not to mention having one of the largest Chinese enclaves outside of Asia. Beyond its iconic Dragon’s Gate lies a labyrinth of lively restaurants, chill bars, fascinating shops, and more. Blocks upon blocks of tea rooms, dim sum places, and more await those who want to have a cultural and culinary adventure in San Francisco's Chinatown.


How Big is Chinatown, San Francisco?

Chinatown in San Francisco covers over 24 square blocks and overlaps about five different zip codes. It's among the biggest Chinatowns, not just in the US, but in all of North America.


What is Chinatown, San Francisco Known for?

Beyond the restaurants and diners, San Francisco's Chinatown's claim to fame is that it’s the oldest of its kind in North America. Not to mention its colorful aesthetic and lively vibe too. From the lanterns hung about to the colorful buildings that make up the 24 square blocks, it's a different world compared to the other neighborhoods in San Francisco. It's the combination of dominant Chinese and Asian cultures and the liveliness of its many attractions that make it the perfect setting for films and TV shows set in the city.


Where to Eat in Chinatown, San Francisco

It's no surprise that Chinatown has some of the best restaurants in San Francisco. The neighborhood is practically known for its culinary scene. Empress by Boon, for example, is among the most popular hotspots in the city. This high-class Cantonese restaurant is so famous, that it'd take weeks, at times even months, just for you to get a table. China Live is a notable name too. Located at 644 Broadway, it's the most successful independent Chinese restaurant in the country. world-renowned Chef George Chen serves up the most delectable multi-course meals worth paying the big bucks for!


Is Chinatown, San Francisco Safe?

It's safe for the most part. You can easily explore it during the day, but come nightfall, it's best to go accompanied by locals familiar with the area.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Japantown, San Francisco

You didn't know that San Francisco also has a Japantown, did you? A little slice of Japan in the Bay Area, this district is one of the oldest remaining of its kind in the entire country. The place is called “Nihonmachi” and is located in the Western Addition of the city. Much like the more famous Chinatown, Japantown also has a lot of sushi bars, ramen shops, and shabu-shabu restaurants in store. Meanwhile, The Japan Center, a huge shopping complex, serves as your one-stop shop for practically all things Japanese.


Where to Eat in Japantown, San Francisco

You already know that one of the main reasons to check Japantown out is its extensive culinary scene. Places like Sasa, Yasukochi's Sweet Stop, Marufuku Ramen, and Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup delight both locals and tourists alike. They offer the most delicious flavors of Japan and they're enough to want you booking a ticket to the country as soon as possible.


Is Japantown, San Francisco Safe?

The safety rate in Japantown is pretty moderate. It's fair to say that it's a safe place overall, but you'd do well to be more careful if you go here at night.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Embarcadero, San Francisco

If the Embarcadero area in San Francisco seems very lively, it probably means the US Job Market is looking strong! How so? Because this place is the city's financial district in the Downtown area. While most of the city's residents might live in Haight-Ashbury or Inner Richmond, a lot of them probably go to work in the Embarcadero neighborhood. Business travelers who travel to San Francisco for work probably stay here as well, most especially since there are a lot of luxury hotels in the area, such as the Hyatt Regency and Le Meridien, among others.


Is Embarcadero, San Francisco Safe?

Embarcadero is a fairly safe part of San Francisco. It's not the safest neighborhood in the city, but it's far from the most dangerous.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Pacific Heights, San Francisco

French chateaux and Spanish-style mansions make up most of the lavish residences in Pacific Heights. It's among the most affluent neighborhoods in San Francisco, home to the city's elite. This is where they live in their stately homes, store their designer clothes, and have their kids ride luxury cars off to their private schools. If you're looking for the most glamorous luxury apartments in San Francisco, you might just find them here. Most of the properties here are prime real estate!


What to Do in Pacific Heights, San Francisco

One of the best ways to spend time in Pacific Heights is to walk around. See the stately homes of the rich and famous, embrace the old-world appeal of the Victorian houses, and look off into the distance to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge from here. You can also head off to Presidio National Park to have the loveliest picnic ever. It's an idyllic green space right by the bay. Far from the biggest park in town, it's perfect for a peaceful family day or even a romantic date with your special someone.


Is Pacific Heights, San Francisco Safe?

Yes, it is. There’s no doubt that Pacific Heights is among the safest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Thanks to the affluence in the area, security is tight here.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Hayes Valley, San Francisco

Home to San Francisco's stunning City Hall, Hayes Valley is the city's Civic Center. Though if you're not into all that boring government stuff, you'll likely appreciate the very commercial Hayes Street instead. It's among the liveliest parts of town, complete with restaurants, bars, shops, and more to entertain both locals and tourists alike. Trendy hotspots make it a go-to area for cosmopolitans who want to stay on top of the very latest in San Francisco, while the nearby theaters and galleries are perfect for families and couples going on dates. What's not to love?


Is Hayes Valley, San Francisco Safe?

Fortunately, it is! Hayes Valley is a generally safe part of the city. Even when it gets lively at times, it doesn't get so rowdy that you need to be concerned for your safety.
Ultimate San Francisco Guide by Neighborhood
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Check out the different neighborhoods in San Francisco to get to know the metropolis even more. They embody the city in more ways than one, from its fascinating history to its colorful legacy and more.



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